So, for my whole life, I’ve always pronounced Melbourne as Mel-born. Maybe it’s an American thing, or maybe I’ve just been uneducated on the subject for 22 years. After arriving in Melbourne though, I quickly learned that the city is pronounced Mel-bin. It really makes no sense to me, but I can’t say much about it coming from a culture that pronounces food and good with completely different vowel sounds.
The morning after Sasha’s party, we woke early for another busy day ahead. One of the guests had accidentally made off with my phone that night, so Sasha’s gorgeous friends Jeremy and Nadine drove me to that friend’s place to retrieve it. On the way, they gave me a tour of the outskirts of Bendigo, and even stopped to show me the local university and student residences.
Because I was still dying to see a kangaroo, they even took me to a bush (meaning wooded area) where a pack/heard/gaggle of them dwell. We parked the car and walked into their domain and I got to see real, wild kangaroos for the very first time. So cute. And the joeys? Forgetaboutit.
Those two dropped me back off at Sasha’s parents’, who live nearby, where I had brekkie with the fam and caught up since the last time we’d seen each other in New York. Sasha’s adorable mom give me Vegemite to try and I’ve got to be honest, I hated it. So salty and brown and thick and…uhh, just not my thing. But I’m happy I tried it!
I would have loved to spend more time with Sasha’s folks, but we had to rush to the train station to catch an express to Melbourne. Sasha’s boyfriend had prepared a group outing to the footy (Australian football, quite distinct from American football and European/Latin football a.k.a soccer), and we needed to get good seats.
The two-hour train ride through the country flew by quickly, and before I knew it, we were pulling up to Melbourne’s train station. The stadium was a short walk away. We stopped to get food first, and drop off our bags at the hostel where Sasha and I were staying the night, then headed to the stadium.
Aussie football is intense. It has the aggressiveness of rugby and American football (lots of running into each other and tackling), the cardio of soccer (dedicated sprints from one end of the field to the other), and the past-paced nature and high scoring frequency of basketball. The fans reminded me of any other sports fans: loud, passionate, spirited. Lots of drinks were passed around ring the game and it seems like Aussies like stadium food just as much as Americans do. I had a great time, but halfway through the jet lag really hit me and I felt completely exhausted.
Sasha and I bid adieu to her comrades and made our way back to the hostel for sleep. On the way we popped by a few Melbourne landmarks including the beautiful Flinders Street Station and lively Federation Square, and open area with seats and a big LED screen for public media broadcasts.
(Sorry for the suuuper crappy photos, but I’m including them here anyway.)
Overall, my first impressions of Melbourne were all good. The city reminded me of Chicago or Portland, maybe (two cities I’ve never been to, so really this is all speculation) in that it is big city element with tall skyscrapers and people in suits with briefcases, but mixed throughout is art and very down-to-earth type people. It’s the kind of city that feels expansive, but at the same time feels like you could run into someone you know any minute.
On day one in Melbin, I didn’t experience enough to make a full diagnosis of my feelings toward the city, but Sasha and I had a big day ahead the next day and I couldn’t wait to see more.